28 January 2009

Intemperate attitude towards authoritarianism

Yet another entry in the pieces that I should probably tag with some sort of nice tag to point out which pieces are spurred on by my commentary elsewhere... but I am a lazy good for nothing bum, so you are on your own. I might put in a nice tag with this one and, in my copious spare time while trying to stay awake, see if I can back populate it.

Such is life.

Now, to the matter at hand.

Yes, intemperance doth rule the day and I do get that way. This was by the ever insightful Mr. Z posting on the rules used by the authoritarian to totalitarian Left/Progressive realm, but applies to the same kind of folks on the Right, too. Actually, when it comes to folks espousing for authoritarian/totalitarian outlooks, I don't see a Left or Right or much in the way of gray. I know lots of gray, and there isn't any between them, the pro- and anti-istas. Doesn't matter if it is Alinsky, Goebbels, Stalin, Chomsky, Chopra, NARAL, or Pol Pot: there may be different sizes to the kettles, but they are all black. And while those in the R party may tout many a wonderful thing, may I point out that the 'bi-partisan' nature of the awful things that have come from government indicates that this is not a 'two sided' affair, but one side using two venues to grab more power for government? Really, even the great communicator Reagan lost it, and so did his party... which brings me to my commentary, here presented in response to the long listing of ways and means those seeking power use communication skills to 'get their message across', but isn't that, really. As always it is as-is, no changes save for formatting.

Really I need an in-line spell checker, but I prefer some browser for reading, some for posting and none fits all criteria... so picking up on the Reagan theme at the end of the article...

And for those who have forgotten, RWR did not follow up on promises of smaller government, less intrusive government, more manageable government... and other elected Republicans paid him little heed on those things.

The simple way to combat lies, misdirection, and all the rest of it is with the simple formula:

-Do as you Say.
-Say what you Mean.
-Mean what you Do.

That comes under the heading of HONOR.

There is no party that directly honors the Nation, recognizes that the government is *not* the Nation, and who will do and mean the necessary things to curb the government from hurting the Nation. Far better that the people do that with each other than have it mandated by any 'nice' government. As it is both Parties back larger, more intrusive, less accountable and highly aristocratic government where the people are mere subjects.

I do not want 'nice' government to do all sorts of 'good things' for me. Government is a necessary evil, and handing it *those* powers makes it true and complete evil, taking away the capacity to do good from the common man and investing it in the highest, least representative, least accountable place in all of society. We entrust ourselves to do the good, government to administer law equally, and for that latter to be held in service to the former by just doing a few simple things.

If you are choosing between 'lesser of two evils' you have admitted you want evil government as neither choice will do the things necessary to keep it in check and make it work for the things it is supposed to do and hand back to the people those things it can't. You can't get government created financial crises if you keep government's nose out of the economy and just administer laws to keep companies accountable to shareholders. We stopped doing that with Teddy Roosevelt. It turns out that Hamilton was wrong: intrusive federal government is the problem, not a solution save to the question 'how fast will your liberty and freedom go downhill with intrusive government?'

Took about 90 years.

We now have an answer.

You can't get from limited government to large government without risk to your selves, your livelihood and your culture. And we have had exactly two parties exchanging 'power' while they have not been doing their jobs to administer government. Why don't 49% of Americans who can vote actually vote? With THAT track record, there is no encouragement, now, is there.

If Republicans want to gain trust they need to clearly state what their goals and objectives are.

They need to mean what they say and back it up, and when someone pulls an Alinsky *call them on it*.

Then the hard part is doing what you have said what you will do as you mean it and will now do it because you honor your word and will show it.

Alinsky and Goebbels can only work against cowards who are in search of power. Say that, tell how that works and say that their distractions are meant to raise ire and feelings, and not let good sense rule you.

That is FREEDOM.

Free people using reason to come to a considered judgment, and you don't need a single damned 'blue ribbon panel' to do that: people are smart if you tell it like it is and show how cowardly your opposition is in trying to change the subject, change the tune, rile your emotions and control you through them.

My stand is for limited federal government and entrusting the States and the people to make good laws for themselves. Those emotional 'hot button' issues of abortion, 'gay rights' and the rest are put on the screen to punch your buttons and distract YOU from the investment of power in the federal government to actually decide these things which belond to YOU and YOUR STATES to decide. That is why they are not 'hot button' for me: those bringing it up want to control me through my emotions and that gets only one response from me.

To Hell With Them All.

In case you hadn't noticed it, all the DEMS and RINOs and big-governmentites are cowards and will not talk about their actual reasons for doing these things. I do and will point them out - I always have and always will. Right or Left, Liberal or Conservative - trying to play with my emotions is dishonorable and demonstrates you have no compunctions and large ulterior motives.

I will not give you that power over me.


And, yes, I will fight to retain it so I can lead my unwell life without government and 'activists' screwing it up far worse than I ever could. Better that than to be a slave to my emotions and then enslaved by government.

To Hell With That.

Conservatives need to swear off of the Reagan bottle and damned quick. He did speak well, fluently and had a great voice. His message is what resonated. America did, indeed, love the man, but if you invest HIM with that power to say what he means, and think that is what you need, then you are falling into the exact, same trap as the Obama Cult of Personality, save trying to do it with someone who never did live up to what he said. Going after the USSR and cutting taxes are his big plus signs. Not cutting the size or decreasing scope of government, letting the budget get larger, and running from Lebanon to give us worse terrorists over the following decades are negatives. Republicans never, ever, carried through with reducing size of government when cutting taxes. Not once in the post-war period. Ever.

Instead we have gotten weasel words about 'restricting growth' of programs, until the 'restricted growth' of Fannie and Freddie have put our financial markets into deep turmoil.

And no one has actually proposed REPEALING the legislation that MANDATED lenders give out loans to people who couldn't pay them back.

Hello? Republicans? Yoo-hoo!!!

Job #1 is getting RID of the SOURCE of the problem, and then seeing what to do about clean-up. As it is the sewer has backed up into your neighborhood, you are forming the bucket brigade and your compatriots, on the other side of the aisle are continuing to flush the toilets heartily with whatever they can jam into them. Then telling you how much we all need a bigger bucket brigade - because they refuse to stop flushing the crap down the toilet. And they have their friends lined up to help with the flushing.

Drunken sailors are smarter, spend their money more wisely and don't smell up the place as much as Congress does, spending wise. Maybe we should ask the Navy to get drunken sailors together to go through legislation? Hmmm... the idea has merit... and if they pass out, well it doesn't get through! Good, all easy to understand, and read stuff goes first... before the third round of drinks, at least. Anything after that isn't likely to get through.

Slims down the federal budget to a few, easy to understand sheets of paper, no 'earmarks' and no tons of paperwork. If you can't explain it to a room full of drunken sailors, you will not do well with the electorate. And heaven help you if the drunken sailors accuse *you* of overspending....

Yes that is satire of a sorts. A pure bit of needling at the over-intelligent, over-elected, under capable, and non-representative government we now have.

Works out better than what we have, no?

This is the old adage: 'The fastest way to stop your headache is to quit pounding your head against a wall.' Hurts like the Dickens when you stop, but that pain slowly eases...

If someone backing huge, encumbered legislation can't explain each line of it, and who CAN in Congress these days, then you, my fellow Americans, don't have enough Congresscritters to read the budget. It is one of those inverse proportion deals where, when more people are represented by a Congresscritter, the Congresscritter is less accountable to that larger population and can convince folks their votes are meaningless, whilst rallying a committed set of folks on the gravy train to 'Get Out The Vote' for them. Invert that proportion to fewer people and there is less chance to turn people off, less a feeling of being a numberless individual and a better chance of YOU personally knowing the scoundrel you are about to vote for.

I agree with Federal Farmer that Congress should never, ever, in a Federalist System, been given the chance to set its own size in the House without a National vote. I really would love to hear why I need people I don't know to represent me... really! And, no, the argument about 'manageability problems' means you haven't looked at some of the larger corporations that are able to function with a management team of much larger size. We invented that as we went along for businesses but Congress never had to learn to be expansive, welcome more points of view in and adapt to the circumstances of the electorate.

Shows, doesn't it?

So, if you try to raise 'hot button' issues like abortion, school prayer, vouchers and such, I will politely say: that is not the proper role for the federal government to have ANY say in these issues. Take a hike, not interested. I have other views that don't revolve around authoritarian government and *no* you can't make that 'good' in any way, shape or form by trying to get your pet project passed. That will make the system worse, not better.

And for those of you trying to press 'civil liberties' or torture or any of these other questions, I will refer you to The Law of Nations, The Laws of War and the Laws of Peace, and other such works like Blackstone's Commentaries on the English Law... the works that you were never taught about, so that you could have your buttons more easily pushed. You can't forget that the way we do things as societies to create governments has rational basis. You never learned that to be the case in the first place in a 'brass tacks' manner. I certainly wasn't, that is for damned sure.

But it was Ronald Reagan who kept the Dept. of Education... so why aren't these things being taught?

They are only the reasoned basis for societies, governments and Nations.

Can't have that, this 'thinking in a reasoned and rational manner', now, can we?

Of course those also tell of the inalienable rights each of us has to defend themselves when oppressed or confronted by war waged upon us as individuals. No government can take those from you as they suddenly reappear when you need them.

Very handy.

For the Iron Times ahead.

24 January 2009

Free Trade For Colombia

Those who read my works know that I am not a freetraderite:  I do not see 'free trade' as the best of all possible ways for a Nation State to work with other Nation States and secure liberty at home and help it to spread, abroad.  I stated that clearly nearly two years ago with this as my view for Jacksonian based foreign policy:

There are three classes of Foreign Nations:

  1. Those that the US shall have Free and Unfettered Trade with.
  2. Those that shall undergo normal trade restrictions and have tarriffs applied.
  3. Those Nations we do not like and will have nothing to do with.

The First Group will consist of all Foreign Nations that have had good, honest and open relationships with the United States and has not undermined the concept of expanding the Freedom of the Individual. This set will also include all Foreign Nations that have been under tyrranical rule and have recently been freed and have kept faith with the United States as a People and seek Our help to be Free. These Foreign Nations shall have free access to Our markets and give us the same access to Theirs, save for those individuals or companies that traffick or work with Foreign Nations that are within the Third Group. These Nations may be Freely invested in and will be considered to have no taxation restrictions save those posed for normal investment within the United States. Immigration shall be as Congress warrants, but shall involve no more background checks than are necessary to ensure that Enemies of the United States do not seek entry.

The Second Group shall consist of all Foreign Nations that are not unfriendly to the United States, but have shown little friendliness and familiarity with the United States. All trade of goods and services shall have a set tarriff of no less than 10%. Nations that have proven unhelpful but not overtly or covertly hostile to the interests of the United States shall fall into this category.

The Third Group is all Foreign Nations that have shown hostility or enmity to the United States or that have worked to undermine the relations of the United States with other Nations. All Foreign Nations trafficking with Transnational Terrorist organizations in any way shall fall into this category as they are seeking to undermine the Rule of Nations and orderly conduct between Nations. No trade or banking may take place between the United States and these Foreign Nations. Any individual or company from within the United States or its Free Trade partners that trafficks with these Foreign Nations shall not be able to invest or have banking relationships with the United States nor purchase goods and services from the United States. Such individuals and companies are considered to be pariahs and are unwelcome to visiting the United States.

That first group I sum up to be the 'Friends & Allies' of the United States.  These are the folks who show up with us over and over on the battlefield, at the diplomacy tables and help us while we... generally spite them for being such naive fools as to believe the US would actually RECOGNIZE and SUPPORT them.  Generally we have, as a Nation, Congress after Congress, Administration after Administration, given those seeking out support to help them in building liberty abroad the absolute and definitive Cold Shoulder.

Liberals are not alone in this, but are a main problem.  I could go through the litany of terror groups we are supposed to 'understand' and Nation States fighting terrorism that we are supposed to ignore, like Israel, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Greece, and now Iraq.

A quick question for Liberals:  do you support liberty and freedom as a human species-wide concept or not?

If you *do* then *why* don't you support Nations put together to secure peace and who seek our help in combating those who would destroy civil order?  For people to be accredited the high term of 'civilian' they must act to uphold the concept of civil rule so as to stem the rising tide of those humans who revert to the Law of Nature.  That is a fundamental and profound human liberty, being able to have a society in which people do not wantonly kill each other at whim based on purely personal feelings... or decide to take up the weapons of war against Sovereign Nations.  If all you can find is 'moral equivalence' then could you please tell me where supporting those seeking to undermine civil systems via destroying them and bringing strife ON THEIR OWN is exactly equal to a Nation State defending itself through regulated and accountable civil channels?


I'd like to know the author who raised barbarism to the level of civilization so I could give my neck the side-to-side workout at how daft that notion is.

Conservatives don't get off easy on this, either, since, as a class, they have decided to that 'economic efficiency' somehow spreads liberty.  It does not.  Often it doesn't even spread wealth, not to speak of liberty.  I went over this ill-founded concept when I looked at NAFTA, and pointed out that 'free trade' without acknowledging the economic, social and physical environs of those we trade *with* can have deleterious and often disastrous effects.  We have gone from having Mexico being a relatively poor Nation with subsistence farming and the rare 'insurgent' trying to push Communism to having Mexico being poor, no subsistence farming and fostering a turbo-charged criminal insurgency that now threatens the order of the United States in the desert Southwest.

You couldn't get from there to here without NAFTA destroying the economy and subsistence farming system in Mexico, dislocating millions of people, having them get then lose jobs in under a decade due to 'efficient business practices' going to the Far East, and having lots of narcotics money flowing around needing people to protect it... of which there were now plenty of non-farming capable unemployed in Mexico to take up those jobs from the employer of last resort, organized crime.

The boon to the US?

We now get to prepare for a COIN deployment on US SOIL!


For nothing and the blood flowing in the streets of Mexico and coming strong to America is on YOUR HANDS.

And when a 'conservative' trots out Adam Smith and Wealth of Nations, I point out that even Adam Smith bowed to the concept that the Law of Nations over-rules economic efficiency and prosperity based on trade.  That I went over in Trade, agriculture and Wealth of Nations.  Those who believe trade is everything are obviously not understanding the basis for trade as Adam Smith describes it and the fact that the Law of Nations makes trade POSSIBLE between Nations on a regularized basis via treaty.


I am NO freetraderite.  It is not the soothing balm of curing all economic ills and boosting liberty abroad.  Trade is the exterior aspect of the Nation State properly controlled by the Sovereign Power of that Nation and is a demonstration of how good or ill its people are towards other peoples and Nations.  Sorry, no knee-jerkism here, try Daily Kos.

One of the great understandings that President Jackson put down was that the US could trade with a Nation and still compete with it without going to war.  His outreach to the Ottoman Empire to provide it with Naval Vessels was to compete head-on with a Nation we were regularizing trade with: Great Britain.  He was willing to put the US naval shipbuilding capability head-to-head in competition with the best in the world.  And *still* work with the UK to open up trade between the US and the Crown Colonies!  Here is the view on that from him in 1829:

With Great Britain, alike distinguished in peace and war, we may look forward to years of peaceful, honorable, and elevated competition. Every thing in the condition and history of the two nations is calculated to inspire sentiments of mutual respect and to carry conviction to the minds of both that it is their policy to preserve the most cordial relations. Such are my own views, and it is not to be doubted that such are also the prevailing sentiments of our constituents. Although neither time nor opportunity has been afforded for a full development of the policy which the present cabinet of Great Britain designs to pursue toward this country, I indulge the hope that it will be of a just and pacific character; and if this anticipation be realized we may look with confidence to a speedy and acceptable adjustment of our affairs.

He even transmitted concerns from Congress overseas as he saw that as a duty to perform - being the Head of State and all that. Just the cursory examination of his papers that are easily available at the Avalon Project reveals a President who is not: uncouth, barbaric or, indeed, overtly hostile across the board. 

I will take a moment to try and clear up a thing or two about that Administration of  Andrew Jackson's.  He did do many things that others decried, but for those supporting the idea of 'majority rule' NOW you had best look to see where the majority was THEN.  If you don't like the Indian Removal Act, remember that it did go through Congress, was passed by the Democratic majority and enforced not only by Jackson but his successors, as well.  And do remember that he and the rest of the Nation had to deal with the idea of Indian Nations as actual Nations which had not been a clear point up to then.  Consider his concerns later in that annual presentation to Congress:

Your particular attention is requested to that part of the report of the Secretary of War which relates to the money held in trust for the Seneca tribe of Indians. It will be perceived that without legislative aid the Executive can not obviate the embarrassments occasioned by the diminution of the dividends on that fund, which originally amounted to $100,000, and has recently been invested in United States 3% stock.

The condition and ulterior destiny of the Indian tribes within the limits of some of our States have become objects of much interest and importance. It has long been the policy of Government to introduce among them the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life. This policy has, however, been coupled with another wholly incompatible with its success. Professing a desire to civilize and settle them, we have at the same time lost no opportunity to purchase their lands and thrust them farther into the wilderness. By this means they have not only been kept in a wandering state, but been led to look upon us as unjust and indifferent to their fate. Thus, though lavish in its expenditures upon the subject, Government has constantly defeated its own policy, and the Indians in general, receding farther and farther to the west, have retained their savage habits. A portion, however, of the Southern tribes, having mingled much with the whites and made some progress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama. These States, claiming to be the only sovereigns within their territories, extended their laws over the Indians, which induced the latter to call upon the United States for protection.

Under these circumstances the question presented was whether the General Government had a right to sustain those people in their pretensions. The Constitution declares that "no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State" without the consent of its legislature. If the General Government is not permitted to tolerate the erection of a confederate State within the territory of one of the members of this Union against her consent, much less could it allow a foreign and independent government to establish itself there.

This President saw debt obligations to Natives being ill-funded by Congress and called Congress on that.  He then goes on to cite the problem of the Congressional attitude in 'civilizing' natives which became a policy of land buy-out and forcing those people to leave their native lands.  Note the major concern in the Constitution as the natives had NO pre-existing State or Nation in many areas that when erecting a new government they were clashing directly with directives set up at the Founding.  Of course he told them to stop what they were doing inside the US: that was his job as described in the Constitution as he saw it.

And what was his response to the problem this caused?  Was it avowed racism to destroy the Indian tribes?  Read on:

Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct and others have left but remnants to preserve for a while their once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay, the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware is fast over-taking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the limits of the States does not admit of a doubt. Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new States, whose limits they could control. That step can not be retraced. A State can not be dismembered by Congress or restricted in the exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those States and of every State, actuated by feelings of justice and a regard for our national honor, submit to you the interesting question whether something can not be done, consistently with the rights of the States, to preserve this much- injured race.

Apparently the answer is a resounding NO.  He recognized the ills that were done, sees the injustice of it and, recognizing that his power as President is limited brings it to the part of the US government that can and MUST deal with it:  Congress.

I bring this up to clear some of the misunderstandings that are held about President Jackson.  Understand that if these could be Nations he would then treat with them as Head of State as he had done with other foreign powers.  He even ventured that new purchased lands west of the Mississippi be set aside for such purposes so that they could be 'secured in the governments of their own choice' by common consent and form new Nations.  And he was not adverse to recognizing those Nations as witness his signing treaties with them in 1830.

When leading his truly rag-tag militia into conflict, he accepted any that were free and citizens to take up arms and help him.  Freed slaves he accepted.  Indians who were citizens he accepted.  Help from a pirate he did not disdain as a leader of his men, but he had no orders to do otherwise.  They were to be honored and respected and he would work on Veterans affairs to ensure that Revolutionary War soldiers got their due pensions and voting rights.  Thus I have problems with those wanting to discount the man on simplistic, modern terms when, on his own and via the federal system he worked in, there were and are limits on the government.  And he *praises* those limits, too...

End of interlude.  Sorry it took so long.


Back to Colombia and the good relations had by our government with that of Colombia in 1830... after turning the medal given to President Jackson over to Congress as the Constitution does not allow those holding Public Office to accept personal rewards from foreign governments... say, when did we stop doing that?  Ah, simpler times when people could actually read the Constitution.  In any event, we have this as our opening view to regularizing trade with the then new government of Colombia:

I deem the present a suitable occasion to inform you that shortly after my communication to Congress at the opening of the session dispatches were received from Mr. Moore, the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States to Colombia, stating that he had succeeded in obtaining the assent of the council of ministers to the allowance of the claims of our citizens upon that Government in the cases of the brig Josephine and her cargo and the schooner Ranger and part of her cargo. An official copy of the convention subsequently entered into between Mr. Moore and the secretary of foreign affairs, providing for the final settlement of those claims, has just been received at the Department of State. By an additional article of this convention the claim in the case of the brig Morris is suspended until further information is obtained by the Colombian Government from the Court at Carracas; and Mr. Moore anticipates its early and satisfactory adjustment. The convention only waited the ratification of the Liberator President, who was at the time absent from Bogota, to be binding upon the Colombian Government. Although these claims are not, comparatively, of a large amount, yet the prompt and equitable manner in which the application of Mr. Moore in behalf of our injured citizens was met by that Government entities its conduct to our approbation, and promises well for the future relations of the two countries.

Representing the problems great and small of the Citizens of the United States gives an opening to regularizing trade between those who have recently freed themselves under the banner of liberty and freedom.  By having reciprocity and acknowledging problems and working to resolve them, the tone for how to conduct foreign policy that helps others to secure their liberty abroad without the need for military intervention is set.  That is a friendly way to deal with the world and secure liberty and freedom:  actually helping those who DO work to secure it and HELP them. 

Not hope they might change their ways, as is the current case with China.

Relations between Colombia and the US have not always been good, since then, needless to say, but the founding principle of how we treat each other was established by President Jackson.  Indeed he would try to do that with all the governments who had their Sovereignty recognized by treaty by the UK and Spain.  While Monroe had a Doctrine of non-intervention by outsiders in the New World, Jackson had one of offering the hand of friendship to those who would build peaceful societies and have governments to help them secure liberty and freedom.

When our friends in Colombia were under siege by drug cartels AND narco-terrorists, we worked first only in one area, on the cartels, and that fed the drug trade directly to FARC, and terrorism took a ghastly turn for the worse.  FARC had, before that, served as a type of 'enforcer' in certain areas of the drug trade while, somehow, trying to say that making money via these illicit capitalist means was a good way to create socialism:  exploit the workers to do something other than exploit them.  The exploitation, however, not only did not end when the powerful cartel bosses fell, but got worse and deeper under FARC.  For a time it looked like the area that FARC was able to clear of government control might topple the entire country.  Their government turned to one of their oldest contacts they had: the United States.

Our response was lackluster at first, not wanting to go beyond the criminal portion of things.  But the corrosive effects of Private War to destabilize not just Colombia but many Nations in South America caused a change in policy under the Clinton Administration.  If President Clinton failed horrifically in addressing Islamic Terrorism, he did an adequate job in helping go after narco-terrorism in Colombia.  This was a combined military and civil plan between multiple governments to try and strangle FARC and destroy its billion dollar per year profit off the drug trade it now had majority control of in Colombia.  By 2000 they were helping multiple other terrorist organizations on a global basis and serving as the training ground for those who could pay the toll.  Hezbollah, IRA, Tamil Tigers, al Qaeda, PLO, HAMAS... a laundry list of groups large and small came to be associated with FARC.

If the US had to learn multi-ethnic COIN later in Iraq, the start of modern COIN doctrine can be placed in Colombia under President Clinton.  For that we do need to divorce our feelings about how President Clinton often did things to divert attention from personal affairs, and to recognize that he did a few things right outside of that realm.  Colombia would have collapsed without the help of the United States under President Clinton, when we could have easily supplied the training and necessary minimal war material to effect a good, long term COIN plan.  That plan started in 1996 and a mere 13 years later it has achieved astonishing successes.

When Colombia faced unrest, revolution and chaos they came to the people of the United States for help, and no matter how miserly it was, the necessary help was given and it has been one of the largest terrorist organization take-downs in history.  The hard work and credit go to Colombia and those Nations that directly helped in intervening the drug and arms trade to FARC.  In asking for that help, they now see that we are irresolute in standing by them to help build closer and stronger ties to support liberty and freedom in their land.

I do support Free Trade for Colombia.

They have earned it and deserve it and it will help draw us closer together for the common problems that plague this hemisphere and make us both stronger via that healthy competition and sharing of goods that neither can wholly do on its own.  That would be a boon to both our peoples.

I apply that same concept across the board.

Help those who seek liberty and freedom and do not fear competition with them: they are your friends and allies.

Keep those who speak but do not DO at arms length, and deny them easy boon and make them pay to support our liberty and freedom.

And to those who oppose us, they should never feel smug or confident in their ways of the world as they make themselves an enemy of the United States when embracing freedom and liberty  is so easy to do and so hard to secure.

23 January 2009

The money in the madness of his method

On closing Guantanamo we get this from Rep. John Murtha (PA 12th District- D) emphasis mine:

So Murtha may have just been proving a point when he told FOX News that he'd "take 'em" in his district.

"They're no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo," Murtha said, adding that he saw "no reason not to put 'em in prisons in the United States and handle them the way they would handle any other prisoners." He said in a statement Thursday that Guantanamo had cast a "dark shadow" on America's moral standing in the world.

He'll take Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of 9/11? How sweet of you, Rep. Murtha!

Mind if I take a look around your district?

Just looking around on Google Earth using Wikimapia I'm at... ohhh... roughly... 6 or 8 Elementary Schools, 3-5 Middle/Intermediate/Junior High Schools, 3-4 High Schools, at least one tech school, a community college, a University, 3 or so hospitals/medical centers... 5-6 power substations (have to keep those steel works in neighboring districts going), a municipal airport, a lovely lock and dam complex in a neighboring district...

In a neighboring district, literally right next door, I can count over 8 schools in less than a two mile radius!

Oh and some of those schools have 'Catholic' as part of their name and one 'Christian' School, I believe. Plus all sorts of non-Islamic churches, houses of worship, Synagogues. Plus cemeteries for same as terrorists of the Islamic sort tend to defile that sort of thing in their spare time.

Then there are the oil storage tanks, always a yummy target!

At least one good sized rail yard... be hell having that go out on ya, wouldn't it?

Because normal prisoners, you know, always target dams, schools, other religions, power substations, hospitals and such for mayhem for fun and destruction, no?

Blow up oil storage tanks as a sidelight, maybe?

Take a page from their friends in South America and go after power sub-stations?

Go running and gunning in schools?

Are there ever any prison break-outs in Pennsylvania?

You do know that the al Qaeda and such love to break their guys out of prison and they have cells in the US, right? al Qaeda jackets indicating training in Egypt found on the Southern Border a few years back, after 9/11? Hezbollah smuggling ring operating from Toronto to North Carolina to Detroit? Notice a State in the middle of that triangle?

I do.

That doesn't even begin to address the East European Families working with terrorist groups in North America.

Do you ever get cars stolen by folks who come from Albania, Algeria, Turkey, or Nations that you've never heard of before? Because Interpol cited them in 2000 as one of the major ways al Qaeda off-shoots were spreading into North America, using Canada as an entryway and... well... that Hezbollah funding ring points out they are more than happy to help out all sorts of not nice people.

Why don't terrorists bust out of Guantanamo?

Have you seen where they have to go and what their attitude is towards terrorists they aren't sponsoring? A bit of sudden lead poisoning if you are lucky in Cuba. And just how far do you have to swim to get to international waters? And avoid sharks...

And a bit further on in the article:

The long-serving congressman beat Russell in November even after calling his constituents "racist" and "rednecks" just weeks before Election Day.

Kevin Miller, who lives in Murtha's district, told FOX News that, "He brings the pork home and people seem to like that."

"I guess this is Jack Murtha's economic stimulus package," he quipped.

But he said the idea that Guantanamo prisoners are no more dangerous in the 12th District is "just insane."

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections had no comment on Murtha's remarks.

Hey, isn't this sweet?

Elitist, snooty, blue nosed, and insane?

I'm starting to think that Rep. Murtha wouldn't mind a bit of terrorist caused blood on the streets to help rid his district of 'racist' and 'redneck' residents.

Can we add class warfare with Rep. Murtha taking the side of the Elite Business Class against the Working Class? Probably lump that in there, too.

Resident Bill Russell points this out:

He said the proposal is also an insult to the passengers of Flight 93, one of four hijacked planes which went down near Murtha's district on Sept. 11, 2001.

Don't worry its time to 'Move On' from 9/11 with 'hope & change'.

And the body count you'll get from it and local recruitment into the neat world of radical Islam that *is* a change from the norm?

If you want the pork money, don't mind those who hate pork getting in to come and kill you. Rep. Murtha already defamed the the very Marine Corps he served in by slandering innocent US soldiers in Iraq before they had military justice... and were acquitted.

Lets just add 'money grubbing' and 'anti-American' to the litany of those characteristics that define Rep. Murtha.

Perhaps the folks in his District can petition for a recall election.

Before we find out that the 'war on terror' isn't a slogan you can shut down from the Oval Office and comes home to roost with the Good Citizens of Pennsylvania who re-elected this fool to office. Because for him its not blood for oil... its money for blood. That is what he wants to bring home with the bacon: those waging Private War.

They aren't 'criminals'.

They have turned from all civilized behavior and respect no law, no Nation, nothing... save their will to power and willingness to kill.

Just like your standard rapist, arsonist or car thief, no?

21 January 2009

On January 20th I celebrated...

... my ability to fire weapons I had previously cleaned for my sister-in-law.  With my niece being here we had a good, good day at the range.


Having never fired a shotgun before, but having one that was very simple to operate, that being a bolt action, the first shot of the day was a bit of a boom from the 16 gauge Mossberg 190KA.  Not only did I get it on the paper, but was only a few inches down and to the left (solid shot as the range doesn't allow anything else for shotguns).  My next one pulled within two inches of center of mass (using the standard outline target).  Yes, I had cleaned it properly, taking out the dust and carbon that had been left in it, probably since the 1980's or so, checked the bore, which was nice and clean once you got the dust and carbon off of it and fired pretty well for a beginner.  Safe to use!  Has a bit of a kick to it, being a bolt action and all, and the new Limbsaver recoil pad worked very well.  Mind you this is with some of those Peltor earmuff things that kill basically just about any sound on the planet save an asteroid impact... had nice dull *booms* with that.

Range acoustics... there must be a profession in that, somewhere...


Next up was the GWA Marlin 60, but the earmuffs didn't let me use the sights so it was a bit of 'look down the barrel, adjust a touch up and shoot' sort of affair.  The action worked great (minus that anonymous large E-ring which shows up on no diagrams of any Marlin 60 I've seen) and got it to within an inch or so of center of mass for a few rounds.

Life is good!

Cleaning job for my sister-in-law checked, the guns function as they should and I am pleased.


The Ruger MkIII competition with the Hi-Viz was the weapon of choice for marksmanship yesterday with my niece only pulling one round out of the second ring on center of mass.  I had adjusted the rear sight blade to compensate for both of us firing down and to the left, and we were both putting rounds with that easily within the second ring of center of mass at 20 feet with my pattern going out to the third ring only at 40 feet.

This was also 'try out lots of 22 lr ammo' day, and the only real mis-feed was off of a Fiocchi Bi-Athlon box, but then it was a bit warmer than the 40 to -40 temperature range on the box.  Still, only the one out of 50 rounds, over a couple of sessions on that, with most of it going down yesterday.  Low end Champion worked well, but didn't have a good feeling to keeping on center of mass... but all kept within the second ring at 20, so no real complaints, and only a single FTF which required the Ruger bolt to be pulled back a touch and then having the round seat properly.  Those were the only two negatives on the ammo.  CCI Stinger and Velocitor did, indeed, speed down range and for keeping a good grouping, it would be my preferred ammo at longer range.  Also the CCI HP magnum 22 lr rounds were good, got a box of those on the cheap and its pretty much gone at this point.

We were both pleased with the Ruger MkIII Competition, the one with the 6 7/8" slab sided bull barrel.  Took about 80 rounds and a thorough cleaning to get it to good firing condition and we put at least 120 downrange yesterday of Fiocchi, Federal, CCI being good feeds and keeping in tight groups.  The Hi-Viz sight, for pure 'by god that is where the target is' shooting is excellent.  Turned trying to fire with the standard black sight into something where you can now actually know what it is you are aiming with.


After that was the Kahr A-O TA-5.

I had given that a thorough cleaning to get factory gunk out of it (just what the hell is that stuff, anyways?) and put proper Militec1 in tiny amounts on the action and bolt recess holes for the recoil springs.  Fully loaded with 50 round drum that has got to come in around 13 lbs.  Took me a few rounds to get the simple iron peep sight within working accuracy and get used to the feel of it.  The first 50 rounds was the Blazer one-use aluminum round nose.  It was a bit picky with a few FTFs and that would not properly seat with a bit of bolt easing (the rounds look good and will wind up in a 'second go-around box' for future use). 

At 20 feet my niece and I finished off the first drum and were keeping tight groupings.  She hadn't figured out the sights and was going down the bolt notch and front sight and did well with that.  Although the Kahr is a heavy beast, the recoil is not the problem: getting your arms used to holding it up is the problem.  Once she got used to it, only the FTFs on the aluminum cased stuff was a problem.  Getting a good grouping once I helped point out the shots... and she was doing the old 'well where did it go?' and needed to have the little bit of paper taken out just where her shot prior to that went pointed out.  Yes, she was doing quite well with it.  She went back to the Ruger and Marlin after the Kahr and told me, later, that the weight of the Ruger became no problem after the Kahr.  Apparently once you get used to a heavier firearm and enjoy it, the one that you thought was heavy previously now becomes light and easy to use.

Firing from the hip can be done, as I tried that out, but don't expect any real accuracy on a semi-auto and that will never be a major mode for me on that.  Yes, you can do it and if I had a full auto, then I would give it a tryout.  My niece did finish out the first drum and I reloaded it.

At 40 feet I put a solid, major grouping with the second drum... say, just where did those 50 shots go in so little time?  There wasn't any paper or cardboard in this nice little area stretching from just touching the inside of the center ring and down and to the left of the second ring with a couple of outliers in the third ring... I remember loading it, winding it, firing... firing...

Only one FTF that couldn't reseat with Fiocchi brass cartridges on that second drum full.

I really did expect 50 round drums to take awhile to use up...

So only three FTFs and two of those on single use aluminum for a gun that had been unfired.  Probably need a bit of felt on the feed ramp to smooth that out a touch.  A bit of rouge, maybe, nothing harsh.

Between the two of us the consensus is that I need to find a Tommygunsmith to do the mag catch so I can use the older, historical 30 round mags from WWII.  With that your arm wouldn't be bent so much to get the horizontal forend and the last bit of recoil would be much easier to handle.  She didn't expect that her lighter frame could handle the Kahr TA-5, but after 25 rounds or so she could, indeed, handle it... and now that she knows how to use the peep sight... the only thing missing from the Kahr A-O is windage adjustment.  The Kahr repro sights are *not* as good as the original Lyman sights from the 1930's and '40's.  But still very, very good. No complaints.  And 30 round sticks would be the perfect thing for it, and I now know why our soldiers wanted the 30 round and 20 round stick mags.  If I can find someone to work on it, I do want a couple of other details done to get it to an easier to maintain and operate condition.  Last shot hold open on a drum magazine is what you want on the thing!  A standard complaint on the Kahrs, that and getting your hand attacked by the bolt catch.  Tooless takedown would be civilized, too... the little things would make it perfect... and if those rounds just didn't disappear so fast...

Ok, I do semi-remember having to sweep casing clear from my feet.

Spent casing build-up must be some sort of medical condition, I figure.  Need a catch net and bag...


My niece was the Mistress of the 22's with an excellent tight grouping on both the Marlin and Ruger, and the only misfed round  was on the Marlin and that would not feed on the Ruger, either, so its a manufacturing thing, not the guns, which both continued to operate well.  She kept a far, far tighter grouping than I did, and was in the mode of 'can I shoot out the center of the target?' sort of deal. Good concentration by her to get that down pat.  That 22 lr ammo really started to disappear with her.  She was trying to concentrate on the 'cheap stuff' and... well... its all cheap stuff.  I still haven't shelled out for the SKS/Wolf ammo yet, or even the Eley or Aguila using Eley.  Winchester is pretty smokey and I wanted to get the Ruger into good condition before adding that back to the mix.  Probably at that point, now, as the militec is showing no signs of any carbon getting to the bolt slide, so its probably building up just forward of that, so will check that on the next full strip, not the 'boresnake and KG to clean it' followed by a couple of drops of militec and the snake cloth day-off deals.

Those 10 round single stacks on the Ruger just don't last long... nor the tube-fed Marlin which takes 10 rounds.  High capacity rounds should be NORMAL at 30 rounds... that is a civilized amount for fun time at the range so your spend your time on accuracy, not reloading.  10 rounds is for specialized work and professional (as in paid cash-prizes) marksmen showing off their skill.  Speed shooters need dedicated people reloading, apparently.

Either that or a bag catch for spent magazines and lots of pre-loaded ones.  That would work!  Maybe integrate that in with the brass catch... add sieve, sorter, and auto-reloader... getting a bit on the Rube Goldberg side of things...

She did great with all she used and she wonders where so much of the 22 ammo went... and I do remember her sweeping out her firing area a couple of times.

Yes a real serious condition, that.


I finished up with the final three rounds from the box of Federal solid shot with the Mossberg.  Good grouping at 20 feet, no complaints.  I could see where a semi-auto 12 gauge would be a nice gun to have and put some of that recoil to use doing something useful instead of into the recoil pad and shooter.  All that lovely kinetic energy going to waste!

Next time she'll take the Mossberg, I'll take the Marlin and we will share the Ruger and Kahr, although she had no complaints and also wondered just where that second 50 round drum went as she hadn't seen me reload and thought it was the remains of the first drum load... they all just disappeared down range... at this rate I'll need to start out on the 150 foot/50 yard range next time and move from the 75 foot/25 yard.  I found I didn't need the monoscope for 40 feet on the Kahr - that peep ring really does bring things into focus!  Simple optics and yet so useful.  Need it for the 22 work, though as the smaller holes are just tough to see.

Thank you to the Silver Eagle facility and your kind and courteous staff.  Being able to punch up the exact distance in feet for your target is a godsend, so you don't need to triangulate between well worn marks on the floor that aren't there any more.  The water trap for solid shot puts them into the 50 BMG capability for all their ranges, so I can finally do some practice on that stuff if I decide to purchase any.  Picked up one-year memberships and we got two lanes for two hours at the cost of the paper targets. Those big paper targets are worth it... need to get some of those... Anyplace else and that would be half the cost of my membership fee or monthly dues at Silver Eagle, and I expect it to become very popular once it is officially opened with a real party and such.  Forced air puts all the smoke down range into the water trap, and the air is filtered from outside and climate controlled. 

They have pretty close to full day/night and dry to damp indoor conditions available for simulations in the rest of their facility, along with a huge area being set side for Law Enforcement (Federal, State, and Municipal) training plus open to private groups like the Practical Shooting groups as they will have a two floor house mock-up available for that... basically a full range simulator for all climates, conditions and scenarios from bars and nightclubs to homes to...well... they want an airframe in there for the air marshals... Plus scads of in-house training, including to SMGs, hand to hand, edged weapons... makes me wish I was healthy, but lots of things do that.

I will stick with the simple pleasures in life and make the best of what I have left.

I am thoroughly wiped after yesterday.

I am sure other things went on in the world.

We celebrated a good day at the range.

And that mattered more than anything else.

15 January 2009

Sovereignty fact explained by fiction


Who holds Coinspinner knows good odds

Whichever move he make

But the Sword of Chance, to please the gods

Slips from him like a snake.

The Sword of Justice balances the pans

Of right and wrong, and foul and fair.

Eye for an eye, Doomgiver scans

The fate of all folk everywhere.

Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, how d'you slay?

Reaching for the heart in behind the scales.

Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, where do you stay?

In the belly of the giant that my blade impales.

Farslayer howls across the world

For thy heart, for thy heart, who hast wronged me!

Vengeance is his who casts the blade

Yet he will in the end no triumph see.

Whose flesh the Sword of Mercy hurts has drawn no breath;

Whose soul it heals has wandered in the night,

Has paid the summing of all debts in death

Has turned to see returning light.

The Mindsword spun in the dawn's gray light

And men and demons knelt down before.

The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright

Gods joined the dance, and the march to war.

It spun in the twilight dim as well

And gods and men marched off to hell.

I shatter Swords and splinter spears;

None stands to Shieldbreaker.

My point's the fount of orphans' tears

My edge the widowmaker.

The Sword of Stealth is given to

One lonely and despised.

Sightblinder's gifts: his eyes are keen

His nature is disguised.

The Tyrant's Blade no blood hath spilled

But doth the spirit carve

Soulcutter hath no body killed

But many left to starve.

The Sword of Siege struck a hammer's blow

With a crash, and a smash, and a tumbled wall.

Stonecutter laid a castle low

With a groan, and a roar, and a tower's fall.

Long roads the Sword of Fury makes

Hard walls it builds around the soft

The fighter who Townsaver takes

Can bid farewell to home and croft.

Who holds Wayfinder finds good roads

Its master's step is brisk.

The Sword of Wisdom lightens loads

But adds unto their risk.

(end of the song)

Normally I would be launching into a diatribe, but, instead of giving that and the example, I will give the concept first and then launch into a shortened diatribe!

Fred Saberhagen's Swords series features 12 Swords made by the God Vulcan (no relation to the original, they just have the same job and appearance, plus background) because the Gods were... well... bored. They needed to spice up their lives and end the humdrum of Godly tedium and so they gave Vulcan the task of fashioning something to do that. He came up with the 12 Swords. In all of fantasy (and really this is more SF than Fantasy, but Saberhagen blends them so well you can't tell where one leaves off and the other begins) there is nothing like these Swords. The Song of the Swords gives the basic concept, and each Sword gets its own tale along with some intro and follow-up novels to help round the entire affair out. Although it has some individual slow stories, each one works as part of the greater world that Saberhagen has created, and he puts out multiple, riveting concepts in all of the books of Ardneh, of which the Swords are a sub-part but stand alone component.

Each Sword, looks, basically, like a well crafted 'working blade' with only a slight insignia on the pommel to let you know the true nature of what it is you hold. Thus a triangular piece falling from a square is Stonecutter: the piece cut off the whole. One of them is blank on that, and it is a really quite horrific Sword to stumble across. In each area of power the Sword is Sovereign when other blades are absent. Using Stonecutter as an example, no other Sword may cut through stone as if it was something akin to styrofoam. Wayfinder will assuredly find you the way to go... just make sure you know what it is you are looking to find. And those who hold Coinspinner know invariable good luck in all things, from minor games of chance to having something large happen that is highly improbable, but is very lucky for you to have happen... and just like good luck it can suddenly vanish from your side leaving a spinning coin behind.

Alone each Sword has its Power and its weaknesses, although many seem so powerful as to have none, that is not the case, especially in combination. Thus while the Mindsword can hold anyone alone in or in huge crowds, even Gods, in thrall to the bearer, Soulcutter can go through that to cause unremitting despair and despondency so that doing anything seems pointless, so that entire battles within sight of it fall down to silence. These are their Sovereign Powers, and each has strength and precedence and order, and serve the user within those realms and no other.

The combat Swords get much play, but they have their own ranking from relatively unimportant, that being Dragonslicer as the dragons of that world are not the ones of most fantasy settings just big lizards, Doomgiver which gives damage back in kind to those who attack its wielder, Townsaver so that a town or other similar organizational unit (ex. cities) can have a stout defender who only feels all the damage once the battle is over, Farslayer that you swing around you and name who it is to kill and release it to go do that, and Shieldbreaker the Sovereign Sword of Combat against those who wield weapons, armor and spells, and even the other Swords, save one.... or that guy without armor coming to punch you out, its useless against him and becomes a phantom blade that cannot harm the unarmed and you can't put it down in combat, such is Shieldbreaker.

As even the Gods have no power over these Swords, they cannot destroy them and the power of the Sword is Sovereign in its realm over all other powers in that realm, they definitely livened things up and shook up the establishment and generally started a great game of 'Which God Goes Down Next?' Mind you the God would re-appear under new guise, but that is part of what makes them Gods, now, doesn't it? And because each of these Swords has its own set of weaknesses, that pretty much assures that they will get moved around a bit over the years. If you pick up a Sword you become part of the Great Game of Sword Bearers, where each has their own intent, wants and direction... really, with such power who could put one *down* or say 'I don't want it?' That does mean you have to understand the Sword's nature and what it is you want... or else... well... some people get very, very good at the Great Game of Swords. Mostly, not the Gods who now have very interesting, and sometimes short, life-spans.

By the nature of their powers they are *not* co-equal: they have no peer in what they do.

They can, however, cross-check each other and as you can't survive holding two at a time, at least not long, if you find a *second* Sword you then have to deal with that little problem. And while stockpiling them might seem a *good* idea, Coinspinner, at least, will ensure that there is always a lucky threat against you at some point. Thus the stories wander all over the place, due to the Swords, their Bearers and those who seek out particular ones for certain needs. And no one Sword is proof that you will not be killed, will not be countered or will have your schemes come to fruition. That is the nature of Sovereign Power.

Why go through this?

Over at Rick Moran's place, he has an article up on investigating alleged wrong-doing by previous Presidential Administrations, and its interesting that the concept of the Sovereign Powers of Government are not understood all that well. Perhaps the best text to go to which goes through the Sovereign Powers of the Nation State is Emmerich de Vattel's Law of Nations, which is one of the best and most thorough attempts to go over what the exact powers of a Nation State actually are, and how they are viewed. When perusing through the books, one finds long sections of powers, what they mean, how they are used, and how they interact. Each Power of a Sovereign Nation State is complete, in itself, and yet complementary to all Powers of the Nation. While mainly addressing Nations with Kings and such, Republics are recognized as a system of government that is enacted for the Powers and that those Powers are divided amongst various sub-parts of the overall government. Thus the Power to Declare War and the Power to Execute War can, like in the US system, be divided amongst different parts of government. The whole of the Nation State has these Powers, but they are put into different and separate areas in a Republic, if that is the formulation of that Republic, at least.

In no way are these powers 'co-equal': they are complementary and Sovereign each in their own realm of being. Just like the Power of the Swords, these Powers have their own realm in which they are enacted in understood ways. Thus, for a Republic, we may require the Legislative Branch to start War against another Nation, but the Executive Branch must protect the Nation against all threats, Nations and non-Nations, and must act to ensure that Power is faithfully executed within the restrictions of the framework. Particularly against non-Nation State actors in the military realm, the Executive gets broad powers outside of Congress, while Congress can enact legislation in a larger context against non-State actors (the Letters language) for both citing who to go after and giving Citizens willing to take on the onus of War Duties and abide by the Laws of War the Power and Mandate to do so.

Thus, for Public War, Congressional Mandate is absolute. For Private War the Executive must be able to defend the Nation against non-Nation State actors who may arise at any time in any guise to bring harm to the Nation. These are not 'co-equal': they complement one to the other. The Executive cannot make war, save defensive war, against Nation States, but may address those who refuse to abide by the civilized agreement of what Nations are in any way that is legal but without Congressional mandate. President Jefferson did this against the Barbary Pirates, and all Presidents have this as their duty. To ask common Citizens to fight privately requires Congressional consent and regulation, which is complementary to the Executive Power in this realm. Just as the Declaration of War requires the complement of the Executive Power to enact it and put the Nation to Public War.

In the realm of Civil Law the Executive gets to run the law keeping bodies for the Nation (such as the FBI, BATFE, etc.) under Congressional mandate. Congress has put in an Inspector General system for independent review and investigation of each of these organs that reports on the activities of those organs to Congress. To investigate the Executive for Civil Law infractions, the standard organ (say the FBI) may not be enough due to the influence of the Presidential appointees running it. To ensure that those run properly, Congress can ask for the IG oversight on the investigation, so that a separate report on the process is performed outside of the normal investigation. Congress has a final Power, which is to Impeach and Remove those appointees who are found not to be following their lawful mandates.

In theory, that is the way it should work.

Beats me why the Hell no one does this...

Mostly I chalk it up to lackluster Congresses that are more interested in soundbites than in properly doing their jobs and ensuring that the oversight and review process is carried out properly. Everyone wants to invest some, single, investigator with all sorts of unaccountable, non-oversight power as is the case with Special Prosecutors who can have the life of their 'temporary' office exceed the length of the President and Congress that asked them to do that work and have almost no oversight by the IG whatsoever.

The idea that a representative democracy is the most efficient form of government is one that is wholly inapt when it comes to analysis of the Power distribution amongst the Branches. Indeed, each Branch has been coveting the Power of other Branches, such as Congress wanting to tell a President how to run a war that Congress has mandated, or a Judicial Branch trying to make law from the bench or Presidents who want to adjust mandates and oversight to suit the whim of the temporary Office Holder. These are not problems of 'efficient government' but of jealous government run by those who want more power and are seeking to undermine the Constitutional system to get it. That is true regardless of party, the magic of R or D does not bestow clear thinking and 'being above it all'. Mostly those who claim to 'be above it all' have more than their fingers in the pie and are pretty much up to their elbows and wanting yet more pie for themselves.

An example of 'over-reach' is the horrific idea of Congress thinking it can do ANYTHING in making foreign policy, outside the Senate review of Treaties and the regularization of treaties by law given to the entire Congress. That, really, should be enough. Yet we have Congressional delegations flagrantly ignoring the Power that has this realm, the Executive, in going to see all sorts of tyrants, dictators and other nefarious sorts that the Executive does not want them to go to. The positive power of setting foreign policy goes to the President, and the power of enacting Treaties goes to the Senate and regularizing them to Congress. When there is no treaty, nothing to regularize and the President forbids contact, as Washington did with the Neutrality towards those fighting a war in Europe, then the Congress has no more Power than an ordinary Citizen. It has zero power outside of what it is given in that realm.

For those complaining of the Bush Administration not following law, could you please also complain of Congress not following the Constitutional and Supreme Court ruling on 21 DEC 1936 in US v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. on the powers of government?

What we have is not *just* politics at play, although that is a primary cause.

The politicians elected to High Office are REFUSING to do their JOBS and let the PROCESS work and do their DUTY to ensure that it works. Instead everyone wants expedient justice... which is a lynching by any other name.

11 January 2009

The Extinction Theory of Scientific Progress

I bring this topic up as a recent History Channel program, First Apocalypse (link rot may set in as the History Channel doesn't do permalinks), featuring many fine folks, had many of those same folks asking inane and rhetorical questions that actually have answers via analysis. And by trying to be 'fair' the producers of the program did NOT perform their duties to then PRESENT how other geologists explain these happenings. That is part of their Armageddon Week thing, but, really, by only presenting the most hysterical, worse case imaginable scenarios, they are trying to drive a political agenda home on such lovely things like 'global warming'. That is neither history nor science in what was presented, and did a disservice to the general population not only on science but on the scientific method.

When going through my geology courses which were post Alvarez & Alvarez, there was a dichotomy in the scientific community that demonstrated a deep and abiding part of human culture. Almost invariably, in the mid-1980's, you could readily determine who was against the boloid extinction theory of the late Cretaceous: they had been geologists for more than 20 years. It was a steep and harsh dividing line that led to a primary observation in Geology, but is more widely applicable to all of the sciences, and I will paraphrase it from memory:

For geology theory to advance the preceding suite of scientists must go extinct.

The reason that the elder Alvarez was able to cut through the staid geological community was the he was a physicist, much respected in his field, and with his son who was a geologist did impeccable work on the K/T boundary layer marking the end of the Cretaceous and beginning of the Tertiary. By actually just looking, in detail, at what was contained in that global boundary layers, those two did groundbreaking work that ANYONE in geology could have done before that.

With that paleontology then asked a vital question: what was the set of characteristics that allowed those that survived to extinction event to do so?

There was one ready 'rule of thumb' on the extinction event: any land animal over 15kg of adult body mass didn't make it.

In the area of foraminifera, little one celled sea dwelling microbes responsible for all that lovely chalk due to their hard shells, this previous life form that had a huge number of species saw only ONE survive. It was telling as that was a polar dwelling foram that could spend large amounts of time out of sunlight, shut down its cell and sink deeper into the water column. All modern foraminifera come from that single, surviving, species.

Taken together along with only 50% of the forests surviving the extinction event, and many of those being less diverse, we now start to piece together the survivor's pictures.

From that we can answer some of the more inane questions presented throughout the program.

1) Frogs? How did they survive the fires, cold, and acid rain?

The Answer is: lifestyle. Frogs are semi-aquatic amphibians, and as sea life had a different survival sieve applied to it, the actual conditions of water must be examined for life forms. Water, in large bodies, has a slow uptake and release of heat energy. While the ground freezes rapidly in the northern climates, lakes, streams and other bodies of open water can go weeks before freezing over and only the most shallow freeze down to their bottom surfaces. Frogs lay their eggs in water, particularly lakes and streams. Frogs survive this thing known as 'winter' via their eggs, when they don't seek underground shelter, which some do, to this day. Indeed, in desert climates with NO open bodies of water, after a major rainstorm you will find frogs and toads breeding happily and then heading into a muddy underground to wait out surface conditions. As for acid rain, New York State and Quebec have many lakes with high pH values and they, still, have frogs.

Plus 50% of the forests made it through... add in just a few lakes and streams and you get survival.

The question, itself, is inane, trying to paint frogs and toads as 'weak' while, in fact, they have a diverse method of surviving some of the harshest climates on the planet, often as opportunist breeders, and continuing in places where we normally don't picture them. Their very position being amphibians and small, with diverse survival techniques, actually brings up the question of 'how do you kill off all frog and toad species in a single extinction event?' a relevant one.

2) Like frogs, insects were brought up in the program.

Again the answer is lifestyle. Insects do this thing known as 'laying eggs' often underground to avoid swings in surface conditions. While many did roast in the large scale forest fires, probably to ash, their eggs would not do so. Our own knowledge of places like Yellowstone and its fires points to this. Also, 50% of forests were not destroyed by larger destruction, offering safe havens for those that could survive in those areas. And the only thing that breeds faster than rabbits are cockroaches and flies.

3) Sea life. Why did some species survive and others didn't during the following wide swings in temperatures?

Take a look at the semi-aquatic to aquatic survivors and you piece together an answer. Starting with the crocodilians, going on to sea turtles and then on to sharks and such, we see a group that falls into two major areas. First are those with a relatively slow metabolism that don't need to eat much. The larger land crocks didn't make, but their smaller brethren did. Ditto the sea turtles. These animals do not have high metabolisms, can exist off of scanty meals and exist in this medium known as 'salt water' which is harder to freeze than fresh water. They have a scavenger mode to gain food and are general opportunist hunters and eaters. State of decay doesn't matter much to them, just eat it and let the slow metabolism take care of it. That goes for herbivores, too, especially ones not locked in to a single type of plant source. And I've seen turtles happily munch on meat from various sources, so the idea that they are in any way more 'vulnerable' while having a wide appetite, slow metabolism and long life makes them a non-question: they had the tools to survive that others didn't have.

When you say 'opportunistic feeder' have you ever tried to capture just what something like a Tiger Shark goes after? In the stomachs of them have been found: tin cans, boots, hub caps, socks, and often things like human limbs. If nothing else we have learned that the main way for a shark to check to see if something is in the 'food' category, is to apply its most sensitive area to it. That is, unfortunately, its mouth. Great White sharks survived the K/T boundary as they were *already* living in the Cretaceous polar seas and had a wide ranging lifestyle. Plus, once you go down fifty or a hundred feet, you find sea life that exists on the dead remains filtering down to them from above, and they probably went through that just fine.

Ammonites, however, seem to have many of the adaptations of their squid brethren who got rid of shells, and continued happily right up to the boundary layer. One of their cousins did survive: the Nautilus. That survivor is one that readily adapts to different depths as part of its diurnal cycle and is just as happy to feed at fifty or one hundred feet down as it is at ten feet. Other ammonites could do so, but we have no idea why they didn't make it and their close cousin did. Thems the breaks in extinction events.

4) Where are the bodies of the dinosaurs at the K/T boundary?

That is asked in a serious tone!

The counter question is given the length of time dinosauria (and the entire suite of fauna and flora of that period) were around (approx. 80 million years) then where are all these animals and plants?

The conditions proposed in those areas hardest hit by the asteroid impact posit wide-ranging forest and open-land destruction with high temps over a period of weeks, not days. In those areas I wouldn't expect there to be much of *any* evidence of dinosaurs, plants, or anything that would succumb to high heat for a prolonged period of time. In geographically isolated areas of forest or other ecological areas of survival, their very insularity points to small populations for larger animals. Indeed when elephants, Mammoths and Mastodons got everywhere, your ability to find them meant getting to ready food sources or the travel areas between them. Large herbivores have a negative survival capacity in geographically isolated areas as they need more food than the surroundings can provide, particularly if there are wide climate swings. Those predators adapted to going after them face a similar problem, but predators are far scarcer on the ground to start with. Look at modern felonid populations in the wilds of Africa and Asia and you get one animal per every X number of square miles with the smallest I've seen for X being 10 and the largest being 50 or so. Look at wolves and you get similar results that vary per body mass.

To tell you how disingenuous the question is, let me take up the exact, same idea presented by true frauds and those unwilling to face historical facts. I don't like it, but this is the question these folks ask:

'Where are the dead bodies of all the Jews from the Holocaust?'

Yeah, its almost the exact, same question, just put in dinosaurs for Jews and K/T extinction event for Holocaust. As if high heat doesn't happen to do something to skeletons, you know?

As Sec. Def. Rumsfeld quipped: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The flora biota that can be retrieved from spores and such indicate a continuous biota right up to the K/T boundary on a global scale. That is the environment of dinosaurs. Also, that continuous environment automatically kills other extinction event theories, like the Deccan Traps flood basalts being so horrific that it changed global climate, save for all the plants that merrily continued on throughout that period. Strange, that.

Like all fossil finds, we have the general rule that preservation is rare, often unique due to climate and circumstances. Pointing at feet of layers of rock without telling the time-span covered does not tell you about deposition rate nor environment, so the fellow sitting and overlooking a canyon is only pointing to a few million years of deposition for a final few feet of rock. What was the climate for that deposition? Well the rock looks pretty continuous until the K/T... the chances of finding a fossil dinosaur depends on where it died, when it died, what the predation conditions were and what the deposition conditions were. Almost all of the fossils found in Wyoming are terrestrial to wetlands (salt water) that indicate a certain type of climate, deposition and predator suites (terrestrial, semi-aquatic and aquatic). Yet these are also the conditions for sudden flash-flood run-offs to happen, meaning that we can get lots of good instantaneous snap-shots of the animal and plant life with just a single, large deposit of animals that all washed together in the bend of a river.

So after going through that part, the History Channel then tries to be 'fair' to all other previous extinction theories about what killed the dinosaurs! Yes the very theories that had problems BEFORE the impact event are now brought up, yet again, to try and say that, you know, they all really died or were nearly gone before the impact... but that isn't what I learned in paleontology class. Here another piece of science comes into play, and its a pretty well known one if you buy life insurance: actuarial tables. Actuarial tables are those tables that track a cohort of people born in a given year and examines their survival rate, and then looks at major factors influencing personal survival. For most age cohorts it is a straight line starting at 100% at zero and going to 0% when the last individuals die off. Ecological suites at the species level can be used in a similar fashion to examine the die-off of species over time. You track only that cohort from the start and examine it over time. Starting near the beginning of the Cretaceous and looking at all known dinosaur species, you get a straight line that is still far above 0% (in the 30% range if memory serves) that suddenly goes to near 0% at the boundary (birds survived). The larger drop-off for all species from the start of the Cretaceous is high, also, and hovers in the 15-20% survival area suffering a major 10-15% drop at the K/T event. There was a major, short-term event that happened that got nearly all the dinosaurs and had a huge global impact on all species.

Note the Deccan Traps were happening, were part of that historical record and showed NO major impact on life on the planet at the species level.

That is not a regular happening to see something like that going on. If you take later cohorts they exhibit the exact, same phenomena. This would be the equivalent of taking everyone in your high school class and everyone else in that same age cohort, on a global scale, and killing them. Plus having the killing be bad enough to endanger enough others in a similar age, but different species (whales, say) go down with you. Plus all the trees that started growing at that time. And a number of others that came up after that, too... so not only those original cohort members (those your age +/- a year globally) but a number of other beings suddenly going 'good-bye' points to something out of the ordinary going on. That would play hell with the life insurance companies, let me tellya.

Next up is the nasty cross-contagion theory! Ok, I now have first-hand, eyewitness accounts of the West Nile virus in the US. I still see, outside my window: Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles, Mourning Doves, some finches and sparrows, Red Wing Black Birds... we used to have more finches and sparrows, with lots of Crows, but the others were still there. There appears to be this thing called 'resistance' by some species and lack of it by others to a totally alien virus for the area that usually hits bird populations hard. You know, it sounds as if something else is going on called 'natural selection'. Those that survive breed, those who don't... well... we do have fewer Crows, finches, swallows... but we do have Robins! Plus that wide array mentioned previously. And West Nile is one of the top nasty of all bird bugs around. Birds are dinosaurs, you can look at their skeletons and those as they develop in their eggs and see the major skeletal pieces that are 1:1 similar to their larger family.... guys like the Raptors and T-Rex. Birds got through the K/T most likely due to: small size, diverse eating habits, wide population dispersion to those areas least hard hit, and, yes, insulation in the form of feathers. They were also exposed to the same suite of bugs, diseases, parasites, etc. as their cousins and were far more rapid vectors of those spreading even BEFORE the major land bridges showed up in the Americas.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this idea of 'different species having different resistant traits' is something we would like to explore? You know, epidemiological reasons? Saying that 'close relationship gives close cross-species spread of germs, viruses and parasites' is like saying that Simian Immunodeficiency Virus is tailor made for humans... in fact it needs a lot of modifications via natural selection to do that. There is, apparently, some necessity for these various germs, viruses and parasites to find a proper way to vector from species to species. And then you have the problem of natural resistance, geographic spread (yes dinosaurs migrated to new areas, did they migrate on a continual path from central South America to central North America every year? I doubt it but we do have some evidence of it in birds... those lovely carriers of various germs and such) and population contact. And birds (along with pterosaurs) were perfect at spreading these things before the direct contact itself. Ditto insects tossed around by storms. Rats carried the Black Plague but didn't succumb to it... the 'Typhoid Mary' of their day. And if the migration took generations to tens of generations, mere thousands of years, you will see natural resistance appear and spread in populations as those with them fare better and can have more descendents than those who don't.

When that same geologist who asks the Holocaust equivalent question then proposes a 'time out' to send paleontologist to zoos, he might want to take a trip to Auschwitz himself... and then examine that zoos have unnaturally high concentrations of diverse animal species in formulations that are *not* equivalent to land bridge migrations as animals can move out of the place they are in. Parasites are particularly finicky when it comes to hosts, and there are many worms and other lovely things that will actually take up food in a human's gut, lay eggs and then have all of that be excreted because the natural conditions for them to survive and thrive are absent in their host.

Some great multi-disease spread decimating populations? Or slow spread with lots of generations to adapt? West Nile virus seems to have some limitations as to mosquito type for transmission and different birds have differing resistance to it. The news about an H5N1 virus isn't that it has a 30% mortality rate, but that 70% survive it with some small number being immune to it. That is distribution of resistance in a larger population, and works just as well for dinosaurs as it does for us.

The Deccan Traps flood basalt eruptions in India had major problems as an extinction event before the Impact Theory. First off we have just gone through a period from the end of the Medieval Warm period to the modern era which has seen 'The Little Ice Age' augmented by numerous, small volcanic eruptions. We did, indeed, have a 'year without a summer' in 1816. That was *not* due to the flood basalt eruption in Iceland but to the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. Typically, while flood basalt eruptions can put out ash and gases of a noxious sort, those are severely limited not by the size of the flood, but by the length of the eruption event laterally (it is a spreading plate eruption, not one building volcanic cones). You can go to Washington State and look at how the rivers have cut through deep layer upon layer of basalt that spread over hundreds of square miles per eruption. Extinction events have not been tied to flood basalt type eruptions, but *have* been tied to places like Mt. Toba and Yellowstone... the fun thing about the Washington flood basaltic depositions is that the hot spot that caused them is still with us under Yellowstone. If the Deccan Traps supporters can find the geochemical evidence for large noxious clouds of lethal proportions blanketing the globe and explain why this was not a pan-die off that poisoned lakes and rivers (thus killing off frogs and fishes and such), I would love to hear it. Proof is in the putting and demonstration, and there are a number of inland lake deposits from the late Cretaceous that should demonstrate this. So far, no luck in finding those fingerprints... nor explaining why that wouldn't kill off in a more shotgun sort of way a different suite of species than what did survive.

Climate change! What a bugaboo that is. The #1 changer to the entire climate at the end of the Cretaceous and that would have severe consequences throughout the Tertiary and Quaternary is mentioned, but only in passing and not in-depth. On the old 'global scale' deal it is *huge*, and yet... it only shows up in reference to another of the 'almost kinda extinction theories if you squint hard enough to close your eyes' deals. It is dead simple, and has had devastating impacts on the biota of the planet after the K/T boundary and points to a long-term shift in climate that was started before it. It is two events, really, but linked together.

First is the speed of the continents. If you think an inch a year is *slow* before the continents decided to get the core-based turbo-boost, it was an inch per century or *more*. The continents started sprinting around the mid Cretaceous which was increasing vulcanism no end, changing land forms and doing all sorts of fun things, like shifting shallow seas off of North America, Europe, Asia, Africa... by going faster the continents ride higher on the mantle than does denser oceanic crust. Slides right over that stuff. General uplift got us the Rocky Mountain Plateau, now over a mile above where it started. Drained out central North America and other regions of the planet. There was lots more of this stuff known as 'dry land' which didn't keep the heat so well as shallow oceans... but even with that the great heat reservoir of the global oceanic current suffered one, huge event due to that volcanic activity caused by the speeded up plates. It is a minor thing, really.


The Atlantic Ocean got cut off from the Pacific via volcanic activity along Central America and uplift there. What had started out as one, huge, oceanic current on a global basis was now broken up into the large Pacific and the growing Atlantic. The shifts in weather patterns when that happened allowed for climates to shift on a scale that could only make a global warming alarmist salivate. Too bad it was done by nature, huh?

To me the fascinating part of the asteroid impact wasn't that it happened near dry land, but that there was dry land there that could be close by to it. A totally sea-based hit would still have been horrific and yielded much the same results, but due to millions of years of uplift and plate movement, there was a Yucatan Peninsula to be hit... not open ocean.

The series of events that followed: shockwaves, tsunamis, firestorm, drought, dust storm, long cold winters with cold summers, has its own set of survival characteristics necessary to it. How you survived depends on the traits you had going in, and as each extinction event going back to the Cambrian has different causes and position of the land masses, you don't know what it will take to survive. Dinosaurs tended towards gigantism given their climate and conditions, but their small cousins we call birds, would come to dominate just *after* the extinction event until another one and massive changes in mammals to fill ecological niches started to happen. We would, absent the impact, have gotten climates with glacial periods... but the modern ecologies that we can examine for those periods points to enough vegetation for large animal survival. The extinction event, however, had a set of survival needs totally different than those normally seen. If you or your young had a way to ride out the event, assure genetic lineages continued, or fit a size and mass range suited to those conditions, you made it.

We would still have dinosaurs around if it weren't for whatever happened at the K/T... we wouldn't be here, however, as the pressure by those animals would keep mammals in the 'burrow for your life' mode of existing. Which was perfect for a suddenly hostile surface environment, that gnawing on roots and going after worms and bugs underground.... plus some scavenging, no doubt, while the bodies of the large dinosaurs hadn't rotted or been roasted to ash. Birds could fly to geographic pockets of survival and watch their big cousins die out, and get a meager existence on whatever showed up in those chilly years after the firestorms ended. They, like mammals, can generate heat to get through winter conditions and feathers are a fantastic insulator. And how many insects, per species, does it take to keep its population going? A few breeding pairs, mostly, but probably way more than that. Frogs and toads would, generally, live off the other eggs and weaker young, plus eat whatever else they could, survive with whatever local conditions allowed and it only takes a few breeding pairs to lay thousands to tens of thousands of fertilized eggs. Eggs that don't mature until it is warm enough for them to do so.

That is not a pleasant pattern to look at, as it is, contrary to how the program presented it, indicative of one major causation with multiple fall-outs. Not some sort of coup de grace by an asteroid. Plus none of the other causes explains the survival modes so well... I am always willing to look at evidence of different ideas. Show the evidence, not speculation... propose the means and then look to see if there is evidence of it and work out what its effects would be. And when there is evidence to the contrary, you must be willing to abandon the theory, no matter how well it fits with what you think, because the evidence points to it being wrong.

But I did notice that most of those doing the propositions for other theories were... well... in the older cohort of geology.

The ones needing to go extinct for science to advance as they have forgotten that evidence over-rides theory.

Even if that has been your life's work.